Northern Nights feels like summer camp. Hundreds of floaties along the river bend, camping between the Sequoias, and relishing in the California vibes. The sun was hot, the river was cool, and the people… the people were perfect. I was invited to work with the camping crew after having met the camping director, Sam Arabia, at What the Fest. I completely lucked out, because not only did I have the best job ever as camp host, but I also got to experience the awesomeness of Northern Nights (which prior to meeting Sam I had never heard of). I met some awesome people, was able to turn some frowns upside down, and helped make everybody's camping experience the best it could possibly be. It was perfect.
There are four different areas to camp in at NN: The Grove, The Meadow, The River, and The Barn. Each area is very unique and has it’s perks. Camping by the river is nice because you are only seconds away from the water and you’re tucked away from the stages and noise. It’s a more peaceful camping experience, but be sure to bring a canopy because the trees are few and far between. The meadow is slightly more shaded than the river, but trees are still scarce. It’s nice because it is the most centralized camping area and is closest to the vendors. There are some cool lounge spots, like the Fractal Lounge and the Photo Booth (a frame set up across from a comfy couch atop a van where you can take a photo from), and some neat TP’s and such. Across from the meadow is the grove, where I both camped and worked, and is the best camping area in my opinion. It’s super flat, super shady, and super fun. The grove is split into two sections, GA and Reserved. The GA side get’s packed, and there isn’t much room to roam. The reserved camping area ($200 per 10 x 10 space, totally worth it if you’ve got a group of friends sharing), is dope. You have designated space to set up a central area and there’s no limit to how many people can share space. It’s common for a large group of people to reserve 3 or 4 spots, split the cost, and have a nice big camp. I was the camp host for the reserved area, but I was camped in GA and if I were to attend with a group of friends I would definitely go for reserved. Not only do you get a lot of space, but you don’t have to worry about getting there early to get a spot in the grove, you have one reserved for you. Luxury. The final camping area is a little bit of a trek from the main festival grounds (but only a small trek). It’s tucked away by the barn where you’ll find a bar, some surprise performances, and the silent disco. This camping area is nice because it’s shady, it’s roomy, and it’s easy to camp near your friends if they’re all arriving at different times. All in all, the camping situation at Northern Nights is pream*.
Much like the pool at What The Festival, Northern Nights has one major attraction that makes the 10 hour drive worth it- Eel River. The river is dope AF. It’s got one major bend where the River Stage is located, and there you will find hundreds of floaties, chillin like one big happy floatie family. You’ll see beach balls larger than tents, unicorns galore, and of course, boobs. Everyone is soaking up the sun, passing drinks, and bouncing around without a care in the world. It’s easy to make new friends because sometimes you can’t control the direction you float and next thing you know you open your eyes to someone holding a bag of wine over your face. You never know who you’re going to meet or what connections you’re going to make. Everyone is friendly and inclusive and the vibes are just so right. The river is really what makes Northern Nights special.
Headliners for Northern Nights included Griz, SNBRN, Gorgon City, Claptone, The Knocks, Troyboi, and of course many more. I’ve seen all of these performances before, but they were still awesome nonetheless. Griz is one of my favorite DJ’s to get down to… his set is just so groovy it’s impossible not to dance. The stages at Northern Nights are certainly not the greatest sound quality, but like any festival, it takes time and funding to make improvements. This was Northern Nights fifth year, and I have strong faith that it will continue to grow and gain popularity.
The silent disco was a definitely a necessity. When the main stage closed at 2, the silent disco started up and was playing the jams. There were plenty of headphones to go around and more than enough space to let loose. Not far from the silent disco was the Lemon Stage, which was not advertised nor included in the guide book. It is a well produced renegade stage that had guest performances that went late into the night. It was a new addition this year and was a pleasant surprise for all. I really look forward to seeing the progression of these stages as Northern Nights continues to grow.
I should also mention that Northern Nights is the first festival to have a legal marijuana lounge. Anyone with a California State ID was able to obtain their medical card onsite and hit up the free dabs and Js. I wasn't able to enjoy the free swag on account of being out of state and all, but I was able to pop in and scope it out. It was legit, and I'm sure we will start seeing these pop up more as weed becomes more socially acceptable. Good job NN!
I want to share a little magical moment with you that I experienced while floating in the river. So there I was, floating along, when across the river I saw an emoji beach ball trapped in some branches. I decided to go on a little adventure to rescue the ball, so I paddled my way to the other side and saved him. When I picked up the beach ball, I saw something pink and purple tangled up in some seaweed. I pulled it out, started taking the seaweed away, and realized that I had just found 6 beautiful feathers tied together with a white string. While they looked tattered and beaten, but I untied the string and continued to pull away the seaweed and sand until they were free. I tied them back up, held them in my hand, and swam back across the river to put them in my backpack. When I got home the next day I washed them in the sink and dried them out, and they are the most beautiful little feathers I’ve ever seen! Each one is unique and I can’t wait to make them into earrings. Sometimes it’s the small things in life that make me feel the most gratitude. Such a great find!
What really left me feeling satisfied about Northern Nights were the overall vibes. Majority of attendees were Californians, which if you know me at all, you know that I am a California girl all the way. There is just a certain happiness about people from Cali, almost like a Vitamin D confidence, that just exudes positivity. Every person I met, every person I walked passed, even the people I worked with, were all so stoked to be there and so excited to make new friends, that it almost felt like home. It was a comfortable environment to just relax, soak in the sun, and vibe the fuck out. I will definitely be back next year and would love to be your camp host!